Jonathan’s service chiefs to face court-martial, if…

Jonathan’s service chiefs to face court-martial, if…

Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s service chiefs, who were removed by President Muhammadu Buhari in July, may be court-martialed if indicted in the ongoing probe into arms’ purchase initiated by the Federal Government.
Those who could be court-martialed, if found guilty, are former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah; former Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin and former Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu. Shortly after their removal from office, Buhari had named a 13-member panel to probe arms procurement between 2007 and 2015.
However, New Telegraph gathered from a top military source that Badeh and others could be recommended for court-martial if the probe panel, at the end of its investigations, found them guilty on any of the allegations. The source said by virtue of the Armed Forces Act, the former service chiefs might be subjected to military rules in view of the fact that the probe into their tenure was initiated less than three months after they left office. He, however, added that it is only a court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction that can pronounce a man guilty of any offence, as Nigeria’s jurisprudence is “accusatorial” and not “inquisitorial”.
The source said: “By my understanding of the Armed Forces Act, I think in the event of an indictment of the immediate past service chiefs by the committee probing arms procurement under them and their predecessors from 2007, they can be tried by a court-martial, if so recommended. “Whatever offence is being alleged, was committed while in service, and was not barred by time, since in this case, the probe was ordered within the three months’ time frame, for military rule to apply.”
When reminded that they have left office, and so, may not be bound by military rules, he said: “The issue of it being statute- barred, does not arise, in my humble view. “Court-martial would not apply, if the probe was initiated after three months of their removal, but as you know, they left in July, and the investigative panel, was constituted by Mr. President in August; an interval of one month. “Again, let me stress that my position is neither judgmental nor preemptive; it is devoid of all ill-intentions.
“They did their best in the face of the Boko Haram insurgency, they remain innocent retired senior officers, until otherwise proven by a court of competent jurisdiction.” It was also gathered that some of the former service chiefs, whose tenures are being probed might have agreed to return money running into billions of naira.
Besides, the Federal Government may have initiated moves to reclaim “a very large housing estate belonging to one of the former service chiefs, in addition to a very large expanse of land in a barracks, which name I will not mention.”


New Telegraph 
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